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From Weight Gain to Wellness: Bureaucrat’s Journey Inspires Fitness and Resilience as Fit India Movement Ambassador

Narendra Yadav, India's first civil servant and non-athlete, appointed as Fit India Movement's brand ambassador, promoting fitness nationwide.
Indian Masterminds Stories

He began his talk with the timeless adage, “A healthy mind resides in a healthy body,” encapsulating his deep-rooted belief in the significance of wellness. His appearance mirrored this philosophy, exuding an aura of fitness, tranquility, and composure. Narendra Kumar Yadav, an IRS officer of the 2009 batch, also holds certifications as a nutritionist and fitness trainer, embodying a commitment to fitness in every aspect of his life.

Mr. Yadav, who is posted as Additional Director GST, achieved a historic milestone in February 2024 as the first civil servant in India appointed by the government as a brand ambassador for the Fit India Movement. Remarkably, he is the inaugural non-athlete to assume this prestigious role, further underscoring his dedication to promoting fitness and well-being nationwide.

“I am thrilled to have been appointed as a small soldier of the Fit India movement, as it allows me to share my passion for fitness with a wider audience,” he told Indian Masterminds enthusiastically.

IRS Narendra Yadav

THE DAYS OF UNHEALTHINESS

He wasn’t always in peak physical condition. When Yadav joined the civil services in 2009, he carried 88 kilograms weight. However, his health deteriorated further over the next three years, pushing his weight up to 107 kilograms by 2012. His body began to suffer, and doctors warned him about the risks of carrying such weight.

Then, a treadmill accident exacerbated his troubles. A sudden power outage caused him to slip and injure his knee severely. Diagnosis revealed torn cartilage with no blood supply, leaving doctors pessimistic about his recovery.

Even a doctor from the USA suggested a life restricted to elevators, advising him to avoid stairs altogether. Yadav, just 27 years old, faced a bleak future that seemed insurmountable.

But one doctor offered a glimmer of hope: lose weight, increase protein intake, and strengthen muscles. It was a ray of hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation. He invested not only financially but emotionally in his recovery, spending 40% of his salary on health and rehabilitation.

When he was overweight in 2011

THE RECOVERY

“I came to understand the true value of fitness during those days,” Yadav reflected. Motivated by his ordeal, he delved deeply into the complexities of training and nutrition. He pursued education through the International Sports and Science Association (ISSA), enriching his understanding and strengthening his dedication to his newfound passion for fitness.

He also successfully rehabilitated his knee. By strengthening his hamstring, quadriceps, and calf muscles, he effectively reduced the pressure on his knee. Explaining the process, he emphasized that strong muscles naturally alleviate strain on the knee joint.

Despite the visible tear in his cartilage shown in MRI scans, his strengthened muscles now allow him to run 21 kilometers without experiencing any pain. His journey serves as a testament to the transformative potential of muscular strength and dedication to fitness.

Pushing limits at the gym

INSPIRATION

Besides his health, the biggest motivation behind Yadav’s fitness journey was India’s superstar cricketer, Virat Kohli. Inspired by Kohli’s dedication to fitness, Yadav adopted a rigorous workout routine and made exercise a daily priority.

He admits that fitness became a second life for him the day he witnessed cricketer Virat Kohli step onto the pitch. Seeing Kohli’s strength, agility, and sculpted physique while completing a round of calisthenics inspired him deeply. For the past 12 years, he has maintained a disciplined routine of sleeping between 10 and 10:30 pm, waking up at 4:30 am, and spending at least an hour in the gym six days a week.

He emphasized clean eating and balanced nutrition, following in the footsteps of his role model as he pursued his own physical transformation.

Mr. Yadav undergoing hardcore training

BCAKGROUND

Yadav’s journey began in a remote village in Karchhana tehsil, Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. His father, who worked in the education sector, valued the importance of urban education based on advice from his seniors. This prompted the family to move to Prayagraj in search of better educational opportunities for Yadav and his siblings.

In his early years, Yadav’s passion for sports, particularly cricket, overshadowed his academic pursuits. Despite his dedication to the game, his academic performance suffered. He openly admitted that his focus on sports resulted in modest academic achievements: 46 percent in High School, 53 percent in Intermediate, and 56 percent in Graduation from Allahabad University in 2006. Despite these challenges, he continued his education and went on to pursue a Master’s degree later on.

UPSC JOURNEY

Since his school days, Yadav harbored a strong desire to become a civil servant. Despite achieving modest academic results, his determination and persistence paid off when he excelled in the UPSC exams. In 2008, on his first attempt with Hindi Medium, he secured a position as an IRS officer, becoming one of the youngest IRS officers at the age of 24.

Interestingly, Yadav’s study habits were unconventional yet effective. He devoted most of his preparation time to late-night sessions, finding peace and enhanced concentration during those quiet hours.

His commitment to his goal led him to Delhi in 2006, but he returned home after three months, feeling overwhelmed by the city’s bustling atmosphere. However, undeterred, he returned to Delhi in 2008 and dedicated six months to intensive study. His efforts culminated in a remarkable achievement: scoring one of the highest marks in the interview that year, totaling 210 marks.

FITNESS SUGGESTIONS

Mr Yadav advocates for just 24 minutes of daily exercise to save 240 hours of ill health, showcasing his transformative journey from weight gain to fitness and his commitment to promoting self-care for a healthy life.

Addressing busy individuals, he emphasizes the importance of balance: “You have to find a middle ground. If your body isn’t well, your professional life will suffer. Illness will force you to take leave, impacting your work. Establish boundaries between your professional and personal life. Prioritize your physical and mental well-being.”

Offering practical advice, he suggests, “Everyone can spare at least 1 minute each hour for themselves. This is my mantra, and I’ve tested it. By dedicating a total of 24 minutes to your body daily, you’ll reap benefits. Whether it’s running 2 kilometers or simply walking, every effort counts.” His mantra is clear: “Stay healthy, stay happy, stay fit.”

Recognizing the mental strain on civil servants, he underscores the significance of nurturing mental health alongside physical fitness. Yadav’s holistic approach to health serves as a guiding principle for maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life.

ABOUT FIT INDIA MOVEMENT

FIT INDIA Movement was launched on 29th August, 2019 by PM Narendra Modi with a view to make fitness an integral part of our daily lives. The mission of the Movement is to bring about behavioural changes and move towards a more physically active lifestyle.


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